The cost of living in the Netherlands in 2021

How much does it cost to live in the Netherlands in 2021? More than it did in 2020, we can say that for sure. Prices change, and usually rise, each year, both due to inflation and other factors like a transitioning energy system, changes in oil prices, or increased minimum wage. 

Moving to another country requires sharp and insightful planning, it’s good to have an understanding of the destination’s economy. the Netherlands is certainly not low on the list of the world’s most expensive countries. This may have something to do with the quality of life being exceptionally good.

To get a wider perspective on the cost of living in the Netherlands let’s say you are moving to the Netherlands. We will break down what these living costs are, and take a look at how they differ in the years before now.

What does rent cost in the Netherlands?

Rent in the Netherlands is notoriously high and it’s only getting higher. If you want a self-contained property, it’s rare to even find a decent flat below €1,000 (incl. bills). To live in Amsterdam chances are you’ll find the asking price of €1500 to €2,000 common depending on how close to the center you are.

Your bond or “deposit” for an apartment in Amsterdam is considered fair to the tune of two months rent. Depending on who you’re renting from and where it may be lower. If you’re looking for a room in Amsterdam your deposit is usually one month’s rent and the first month paid in full.

If you’re not comfortable spending that here are a few tips on sealing the deal on a cheaper place:

  • Prepare your move to the Netherlands well in advance — you are more likely to bag cheaper properties, rather than rushing to seal the deal on the first place you see.
  • Live outside of the city, and on the outskirts. It tends to be relatively cheaper and thanks to public transport you can get places very.
  • You could rent an anti-squatting property. These are much cheaper, but be aware that they are less reliable than a normal rented property

    PSSST | Looking to buy? We have a handy guide for that.

What does food cost in the Netherlands?

2021 brings with it more expensive goods. The Netherlands has three VAT rates: 0%, 9%, and 21%. The 9% rate is levied on certain specific goods and services. These include, for instance, food, water, medicine, art, and books.

Markets and butchers are a great way of getting food a lot cheaper than supermarket cost and there is no shortage of markets in the Netherlands. Something about walking through a market or getting to know your local butcher is really satisfying too.

There are also local greengrocers and around, so if you want to keep it OG (organic) and save some money, shop locally. Aldi and Lidl are the cheaper supermarkets too, but you may find that not everything you’re looking for is found in them.

Other supermarkets include Dirk, Jumbo, Albert Heijn and many more. There is no shortage of different supermarkets in the Netherlands, Action is like a strange assortment of things you always need but can never seem to find and household stuff, they also have cheap snacks.

cost of living netherlands 2020
You can reduce the cost of living in the Netherlands in 2020 by shopping locally. Image: PhotoMIX-Company/Pixabay

How much are utilities in the Netherlands?

Utility bills vary wildly depending on your provider. In 2021, energy and heating are to actually become little less expensive: they will increase in price by 5 euros per household, but that is slightly less than the inflation rate. This is mostly derived from natural gas rather than electricity, which is only increasing in price by 50 cents per household.

Despite this good-ish news, it’s practical to question how much you’re paying and even pivot to change your provider each year to save a bit of cash. Whether it’s gas, electricity, water or the internet there is a comparison site out there so weigh your options!

We also have our own guide to sorting your utility bills, so check it out in our endless search for a better deal. Note: The company should always inform you beforehand if they are planning on increasing their prices, check the mail!

How much is transportation in the Netherlands?

Transportation in the Netherlands is superb and there are ways of easily getting cheaper fairs. For example, with the trains, you can buy subscriptions which means you can save as much as 40% off during certain hours!

Some monthly subscriptions cover all travel, so you can swipe and go. This is MUCH cheaper than say, the UK. Prices are based on distance and not on time in which you chose to travel, a fair enough deal.


For example to catch a direct train (1 hr 15 mins) from Rotterdam to Amsterdam (including buying a ticket there and then) currently costs €16.50 each way.

If you invest in an off-peak 40% off subscription (€5 per month), it will cost €9.84 per way for you (and three friends travelling with you if they load the samenreiskorting on their OV cards). If you want to cut your travel time in half take a high-speed train and pay a €2.60 supplement per way.

Day tickets are often on offer at supermarkets too, eyes peeled! And if you want to know more about taking the train in the Netherlands, we’ve got you covered.

Should I take the Metro, a tram or the bus?

You can buy hourly or day tickets for these services. On the bus, you can pay just for that route. If you buy an OV Chipcard (€7.50), you can top up the card and you will pay the rate based on the distance you travel. In most cases, this is MUCH cheaper than buying hourly tickets (depending on how much you’re traveling).

If you get around a lot each day, a day ticket is inexpensive and gives you the freedom to use the metro, the trams, and the buses in that city all day.

Or if you feel like taking on the cycle superhighway (bikes are cheap but buy a lock!). Looking to have a car in the Netherlands? We have a guide for this too.

Cost of living in the Netherlands
People forget about transport when it comes to the cost of living in the Netherlands. Image: NS

How much is Dutch health insurance in 2021?

cost of healthcare in the netherlands

Having a healthcare provider you’re comfortable with and can depend on, is important.

Healthcare is private in the Netherlands. A monthly premium for the ‘basic’ healthcare package in 2021 is roughly €110-130 euros monthly and that will cover for your basic and emergency healthcare (but you pay the first €385 when you go to A&E, once you’ve paid this, you don’t have to pay anything more for the next year).

One rule to finding affordable healthcare: Compare, compare, compare.

In 2021 the annual basic premium is around €1,417.

If you need a specialist’s care for things such as contraception (or women’s healthcare), pregnancy, mental health, dental care etc, then you can have these as ‘add-ons’, which you will have to pay for each month alongside your compulsory basic healthcare package.

For Dutch healthcare, you are required to pay

  • a monthly premium for Basic Health Insurance (and for any supplementary insurance)
  • for medical services yourself in certain cases
  • a personal contribution for some specific medication and products.
  • a percentage of your income if you are self-employed or an entrepreneur.
  • costs of products and services that are not covered by your insurance package.

If you aren’t earning much, you could be eligible for healthcare allowance. This means that almost all of your healthcare will be covered. Check out our guide on consumer healthcare benefits here.

Are wages in the Netherlands fair in 2021?

Wages are good in the Netherlands. It’s all relative, with higher tax you have higher wages. Expect your income tax to be high when you work in the Netherlands, and as always the more you earn, the more that’s going to be cut out of your monthly wage. Also please remember to file for a tax return, consequences of not doing them can be severe.

Minimum wage

Minimum wage is usually based on a full-time employee (36–40 hours per week) and changes based on what age you are. These are the figures for 2021:

Age Per month Per week Per day
Gross minimum wage as of 1 July 2020
21 years and older €1,680.00 €387.70 €77.54
20 years €1,344.00 €310.15 €62.03
19 years €1,008.00 €232.60 €46.52
18 years €840.00 €193.85 €38.77
17 years €663.60 €153.15 €30.63
16 years €579.60 €133.75 €26.75
15 years €504.00 €116.30 €23.26

So hopefully this will give you an indication of what to expect to be paid (at least minimally anyway). You then have your 8% of holiday payout every May, some business give out a Christmas bonus in December and you also have annual pay rises.

If you happen to be an expat that works in the Netherlands on a highly skilled migrant visa the 30%-allowance facility is a taxable listing that is in your best interest. These employees are deemed to incur extra expenses related to their stay outside their country of origin.

As compensation for these extra expenses, the employer may grant a fixed tax-free allowance of up to 30% of the wage if the employer and the employee jointly submit an application with the Dutch Tax Authorities, who will then issue a ruling. This rule applies only to employees that earn below € 72,313 yearly.

Can you think of anything else to do with the cost of living in the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in January 2019, but was updated for your reading pleasure in January 2021.
Feature Image: martaposemuckel/Pixabay.

Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.


    • Education for kids is free. Once a year parents are asked for a contribution towards extra school activities (Usually 100 Euros) for each child.

      That being said, there are of course, schools that do charge tuitions. These are usually private and/or international schools.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related posts

Latest posts

Budget Day 2021: moral of the story — we must wait to see big changes

It’s the third Tuesday of September. On this Prinsjesdag, King Willem-Alexander delivered his annual speech from the Hague with a reflection on last year’s...

Coronavirus in the Netherlands: all you need to know [UPDATED]

Coronavirus continues to sweep across the Netherlands and the globe. Here's up-to-date information, as it happens, on COVID-19 in Holland.  The Netherlands reported its first...

Weekly update: Dutch coronavirus infections continue to drop ahead of easing restrictions

The RIVM has released its weekly coronavirus figures from September 14 to September 21. The number of hospitalisations and deaths have decreased even further compared to...

The latest Dutch news.
In your inbox.